Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ludovico Technique

Classical music, the music that dinosaurs and Jesus listened to. It's incredibly old and makes me think of boring movies and commercials, stuffy brits speaking with haughty accents and boredom. Incredible boredom. I'm a crash and bang kid, if anything, I like my music loud and melodic, fun and easily quotable on Facebook. Classical music isn't my cup of tea, nope, not at all. I'd much rather just play some Ziggy Stardust or Spank Rock, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Nine Inch Nails. I don't know, perhaps I'm not cultured enough, perhaps my blood isn't blue enough to indulge in such sophisticated sounds and silences. Keep it away from me.

So, you could imagine my complete surprise when I was assigned an article on classical music. Not only would I have to listen to it, I'd have to write about it, great! To be honest, I was met with shock, that shock eventually turned in to horror at the fact that I was completely out of my element, alone with the sounds. Where could I begin? I decided to start from home and work my way out. I had no classical music at all on my Zune, cycling through for anything I might possibly have accidentally put on there. Disgust, anguish, surprise, wait! Depeche Mode had done a cover of something called "Moonlight Sonata" with Alan Wilder playing it on piano. A good place to start, I put it in my ears and closed my eyes. Where could it take me?

As the music played, the chaos and anarchy subsided within me and I felt this..calmness come over me out of nowhere. If I could focus hard enough my imagination could coincide with the music. It reminds me of something, something close to silence, it's hard to describe, but unlike the music I normally listened to which my brain would constantly just react to, that beat, those lyrics, that guitar solo, that sweet pronunciation of a certain word, that was all gone, just the music and me. The music was somehow forming a backdrop with my subconscious and I could feel my brain feeding off it. Maybe this is why they say classic music raises your IQ, or that it's good for babies to hear. I can't say for sure but my thoughts run freely as I write this.

Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. That was however, just one song, and Depeche Mode had covered it, so that might have something to do with it. I'd have to hear something else, something more visual. One more brainstorm and I found myself thinking of A Clockwork Orange, what was that song, that song that Alex was brainwashed into being horribly afraid of? Ludwig Von Beethoven's Ninth Sonata, enough to drive a man to jump out a window...let's hear it!

To me, the sudden bursts of energy ranging forward describe Beethoven as a loud, frantic ball of composing energy. To think about it from the writers perspective, to conduct it, to play it, so see it played and then just hear it, it's all very frantic. You can feel the emotion, the actions of it, you can feel all that unravel and build up into these intense climaxes, danger, chaos and anarchy, it's all there. It seems I've underestimated the power of music again, because as my fingers dance over these keys they react to the music. I have to keep pounding it out or I'll lose it. There is a balance, just when I think it's over, it isn't, it feels good for the brain though, I will say that.

I thought about the Ludovico Technique used in Clockwork Orange and the strong bond between songs and memories. There are certain songs, certain albums I just can't listen to because they strongly remind me of an ex, or the past. Songs can dig up old memories and feelings, just like the process in the movie. The chain reaction between triggers and memories happen all the time without people ever noticing. Lexical chunks and all that mess. So, after that I decided to research some really great classic music songs. I now fully understand the audio aesthetic and what can be done with it. Now I want to hear something that speaks to my very soul, something old and yet classic, something new and unfamiliar that I can really sink my teeth into and rest my ears on. Where would that take me? How would that feed my head?

I looked through the list, Beethoven's Ode To Joy reminded me of something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I'm tempted to say it was in the Rules of Attraction but I'm not sure. I moved on to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture which was famously used at the end of V for Vendetta when everyone's wearing their V Mask and everything is being blown to smithereens. Such an piece of music set to such a dramatic scene ties everything together. How wild. The Overture is always a Fourth of July favorite, the song by itself just conjures up such summer memories that it's hard to separate the song from what it represents, what it stands for. Playing it loud though, I hear the story in it unravel, new parts I've never heard that you never hear unless you make a point to really listen. Then it builds up into something epic, perfect firework music, there's an essence of time, a lot of things happening at once almost to the point where the sound is bigger than any single person, the sound is a force of nature in itself, and then BAM, the part that everyone knows! Familiar and yet distant. It's exhausting, especially to play or perform piece, I'd say.

After that one I listened to Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor with the organ, classic horror stuff. It paints a picture of dark, shadow castles in Transylvania, the night, and other scary monsters and super creeps. These tunes are all subliminally familiar, just like the movies and the pictures they paint. It's wild, all over the place, it really makes me want to play an organ. I also think of Sesame Street and the Count, thinking of that makes me crave cookies, about 6 of them. One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six Cookies, for me, all mine.

I got a text from Sabrina saying that Debussy's Claire de lune was a good one, and I like the sound of that. Why not? I don't think I know this song, some people say it was used in Twilight but I didn't care to read any of the books or see any of the movies so it's new to me. Surprise again, the slow, easy notes are full of life, they breathe and speak to me, they slow everything down. I'm looking at the sun shining out the window, writing furiously and I actually feel this wave of serene calm wash over me. The notes are played with such effortless grace, no rush, no hurry, all the time in the world. It honestly reminds me of life. Or what life should and could be, my brain is actually happy with how it's going and I wholeheartedly agree, I feel it. I had to text Sabrina back and thank her for introducing me to this song, I suddenly understand that classical music is a thing of beauty, just because I hadn't taken the time to sit down and listen, I've missed out. Now however, it's right here and it's fueling that fire, stimulating my thoughts and allowing me to really see the glory of the classic song.

I can dig it.


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